In everything we do, the purpose of Youth Ministry at Kenilworth Union Church is to demonstrate and practice the living Gospel of Jesus Christ to and with young people. We take a whole-life approach that aims to invite youth to understand, articulate, and live by faith in all aspects of their lives.
Every aspect of Youth Ministry aims to foster community that feels like family, because it is!
Seventh and Eighth Grade
At this stage many youth—even those who still “believe in God”—often struggle to take seriously the Bible’s “stories” learned in earlier years. Often they categorize faith as something for “church”, not school, not friends, not sports or activities—sometimes not even family. They are also beginning to hit the age where they pull away from parental viewpoints and seek understanding through peers and culture. We encourage youth at this stage to start practicing the healthy and mature habit of asking questions and expressing doubts about religious faith, God, Jesus, and the Bible. In other words we encourage critical thinking!
Ninth Grade Confirmation
Confirmation is a rigorous faith-claiming process that help youth develop a deeper understanding of the Christian faith and church life and asks them to claim it for their own. Along with other aspects of the course curriculum youth are ultimately required to write a faith statement that expresses their individual beliefs and understanding of the Christian faith. Those who are confirmed are granted the adult privilege of full church membership at Kenilworth Union.
By high school young people are largely socially and community oriented. At church they experience Christian community as something set apart from but applicable to everyday life. Youth Ministry does this by building intentional community in leadership teams, small groups, and the popular IMPACT program. Community-building includes encouraging real-life vulnerability with support for each other. A parallel emphasis at this age, one that also helps with building a strong faith foundation, is for youth to apply themselves to serve God and others both near and far.
High Schoolers often need practical support beyond faith practice. Our Youth Ministry provides peer care to teens through KUC Cares. Our staff can provide referral information for emotional, crisis, and addiction support. They also can provide reference letters for employment, education, and arrange for court-ordered community service.
College-age youth are not separated from God’s love or ours whether or not they ever step into church during their college years. Even while many seem to drift from church when they go to college, this faith family reminds them of their belonging and God’s love through outreach and contact. Examples include: Freshman Care Package project; college reunion lunches; Christmas Eve 11 p.m. Candlelight Worship Team, Valentines Cards, and an invitation to join the College Leader Team for IMPACT mission trips. Youth Ministry staff also continues to provide one-on-one remote and local practical support of all kinds for these emerging adults.
After College/Young Adult
Once youth set out on life after college, the spend at least a few years wondering “What the heck am I doing?” Youth Ministry for young adults aims to be a guidepost, reminding them of the community they have at church and also, of God’s wisdom and invitation that can help illuminate and navigate big questions of life, vocation and call.
At the age of 21, young adults are invited to join “Theology on Tap” where deeper questions of life and faith are discussed either online or at a local bar in Chicago. Additionally young adults who live in Chicago are invited to practice faith in service through connection with some of Kenilworth Union’s Outreach Agencies where they can help support the church’s outreach mission.
Young adults are invited to participate in the Christmas Eve 11 p.m. Candlelight Worship Team and are recruited each year to serve as key team leaders for IMPACT summer mission trips, a low-cost way to see the world and serve humanity, while spending a week or two immersed in Christian community. In addition they are invited back into church life through leadership roles on church committees, if geographically feasible and to participate in a multitude of faith formation offerings available to adults in the church.